Joni Eareckson Tada, prominent disabilities advocate and president of Joni and Friends, has opened up about her ongoing health struggles and how Jesus is faithful through even the most painful of days.
At just 17 years old, the evangelical author, speaker and radio host was paralyzed from the neck down after a freak diving accident in the Chesapeake Bay. Then, in 2015, she overcame a battle with stage III breast cancer after undergoing several years of treatment.
Today, she lives with chronic pain: "Every single morning when I wake up I need Jesus so badly," she told CBN News, "I just can't tolerate the thought of another day as a quadriplegic with someone else giving me a bed bath and exercising my legs and toileting routines and it all just seems to overwhelming."
When she feels overwhelmed, she turns to prayer: "Jesus, I need you. I can't do this. I cannot do quadriplegia but I can do all things through you," she prays.
In fact, Tada says her pain has allowed her to experience God in a very real way and has given her a greater understanding of her need for a Savior.
"It's why the Apostle Paul said 'boast in your afflictions, glory in your infirmities, delight in the limitations for then you know--the power of God rests on you,'" she explained.
To help others struggling with disabilities and pain, Tada has released a new devotional book, "A Spectacle of Glory: God's Light Shining Through Me Every Day," and a new study and devotional Bible, the "Beyond Suffering Bible". She also speaks openly about her opposition to physician-assisted suicide, which is now legal in six states across the U.S., including Oregon, Montana, Washington, Vermont, California, and as of November, Colorado.
In a February interview with The Gospel Herald, Tada lamented the pervasive "culture of death" and why she believes the church must be at the forefront of protecting life from conception to natural death.
"What concerns me is that there is a culture of death that is sweeping this country, and it is turning our society into a people that are fearful of suffering, fearful of pain, and fearful of disability," she said. "Those fears are now beginning to create social policy. This is not a healthy society. This is not a healthy culture. When we have a culture of death, it undermines the rights of the weak and infirmed and elderly, and that's what concerns me."
She added, "God never intended for us to suffer alone. That's why He created the spiritual community, the Church. The Church needs to extend that pro-life perspective and care not only what happens to that baby in the womb, but what happens once he's born, and once he grows older, and once he becomes an adult - embracing those people with disabilities and their families and the church is a true pro-life stance."